How to Get to Minnehaha Falls, GA at Lake Rabun

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[Updated September 21, 2021] From Amicalola Falls and Anna Ruby Falls to Raven Cliff Falls and Panther Creek Falls, the Blue Ridge mountains offer an excellent array of North Georgia waterfall hikes.

But of all the waterfalls in Georgia, few offer quite as much of a picturesque bang for your buck as Minnehaha Falls, GA.

At just .4-mile round trip, this short, easy waterfall hike near Helen and Clayton offers maximum picturesque payoff for minimal investment of time and energy.

Though the Minnehaha waterfall trail can get a bit crowded during busy weekends in peak season, it’s practically empty early on weekend mornings and during the week.

And since it’s located on the southern shore of Lake Rabun, it’s easy to combine the Minnehaha Falls hiking trail with the 1.75-mile Angel Falls and Panther Falls trail (which is just 3.5 miles away) in the same morning.

So here’s our guide to hiking Minnehaha Falls, Georgia (there’s another one in Minnesota), including driving directions, a little history, and an overview of the hike itself.

READ MORE: 101+ Things to Do in North Georgia


Minnehaha Falls, GA Info

ADDRESS: Off Bear Gap Road in Tallulah Falls GA 30573

PHONE: 706-782-3320

COST OF ENTRY: Free (including free parking)



Terraced Cascades at Minnehaha Falls, GA
Terraced rapids along the Minnehaha Falls Trail

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Minnehaha Falls/Lake Rabun History

Minnehaha Falls is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest, near the western end of Lake Rabun in Tallulah Falls, GA.

This popular North Georgia waterfall’s name comes from the Native American word for “waterfall.” As with most of GA’s Blue Ridge region, this was Cherokee land until European settlers arrived.

The 835-acre Lake Rabun was the third in a series of six lakes (after Lake Burton and Lake Seed) that follow the Tallulah Rivers natural course.

All were built by what is now known as Georgia Power (then the Georgia Railway & Power Company) in the early 20th century to provide hydroelectric energy for Atlanta.

The filling of Lake Rabun began in 1915, after the construction of Mathis Dam was completed. Located at around 1689 feet above sea level, the lake encompasses 25 miles of shoreline stretching across a 10-mile section of the river.

Today, the lake is known as a favorite weekend getaway for Georgia’s wealthy elite. And though GA Power does lease some lots for housing, the homeowners involved in the Lake Rabun Association have largely resisted attempts to commercialize the quaint area.

As a result, this is one of the most pristine and picturesque lakes in Rabun County, with smaller crowds than you see at other tourist hotspots near Clayton GA.

READ MORE: The Top 10 Treehouse Rentals in the Georgia Mountains

The 60-foot-tall Minnehaha Falls near Lake Rabun, GA
The 60-foot-tall finale at Minnehaha Falls

Hiking the Minnehaha Falls Trail

Not to be confused with the 50-foot waterfall in Minneapolis, Minnehaha Falls, GA is located off the unpaved Bear Gap Road, just across from the shore of Lake Rabun .

Of all the waterfall hikes in North Georgia, the Minnehaha Falls Trail is one of the easiest, at just .4 miles out and back. In fact, the hardest thing about hiking to Minnehaha Falls is simply finding the trailhead.

You’ll find driving directions to Minnehaha Falls below, but it’s important to note that Bear Gap Rd and Low Gap Rd appear to be one in the same.

We completely missed the turn the first time, and even Google Maps seemed confused. So just go slow and make sure you download a map to your phone in case you lose your wifi signal.

You’ll see the small Minnehaha Falls Trail sign, marked with the number 147 and a green diamond, on your right as you round a big turn in a residential area. Note that the parking area is VERY small, so get there early if you’re hiking Minnehaha Falls on a weekend in peak season.

Once you climb the set of wooden steps at the start, the trail is very easy, both kid- and dog-friendly. The gradual climb in elevation feels gentle, with the soothing sounds of Falls Creek gurgling to your right.

You’ll likely encounter mud if it has rained recently, and there are some roots along the path. But the evergreen, rhododendron, and hardwood forest is absolutely gorgeous.

There are also a few little side trails where you can make your way down to some of the lower falls along the way, including the lovely little terraced section pictured above.

READ MORE: The 15 Best North Georgia Mountains for Hiking

The Minnehaha Falls Trail Grand Finale

There’s a reason why Minnehaha is one of the most beloved waterfalls in North Georgia, and it will become readily apparent the moment you crest the final hill.

After trekking just .2 miles through the beautiful forest, you’re treated to a spectacular view of the 60-foot waterfall in its full glory.

The expansive area at the base of the falls allows for exceptional views from multiple angles, with the crest of the waterfall towering above.

Angled terraces create dramatic water action as Falls Creek descends (especially after recent rains), and the big boulders at the base add dynamic accessories to the landscape.

The only downside is that, unlike some of the other great North Georgia waterfalls, there’s simply not enough depth to swim at the base of Minnehaha Falls.

It is perfect for wading though, with cool mountain temperatures even in summer. But please exercise extreme caution, as the water can move quickly and the rocks are quite slippery.

Lastly, there is a trail leading up to the top of the falls, but by all accounts it is very steep, very slippery, and not well-maintained. Other hikers we spoke to advised against it, so we simply descended the trail the way we came after soaking in Minnehaha’s splendor.

READ MORE: Vogel State Park: Camping, Hiking & History in North Georgia

Minnehaha Falls Trail Sign near Lake Rabun, GA
Minnehaha Falls Trail Sign

Minnehaha Falls Directions

Directions to Minnehaha Falls From Clayton, GA (15.8 Miles)

From S Main St in downtown Clayton, head south on US-23 S/US-441 S for 5.9 miles.

Turn right onto the Wiley Connector for .1 mile, then take a left onto S Main St/Old 441 S. Follow Old 441 S for 1.5 miles, where it will turn into Lake Rabun Rd. 

Continue straight on Lake Rabun Rd for 6.3 miles, then take a left onto Bear Gap Rd/Low Gap Rd.

Follow the gravel road for approximately 1.6 miles and look for the small Minnehaha Falls Trail sign and staircase pictured above on the right hand side of the road.

READ MORE: Fall in the Mountains of North Georgia: Best Places to See Fall Colors

Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of BLue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide at Minnehaha Falls, GA

Directions to Minnehaha Falls From Helen, GA (23.8 Miles)

From downtown Helen, head west on GA-17 N/GA-75 N/N Main St/Unicoi Turnpike toward White Strasse.

In approximately one mile, turn right onto GA-356 E and follow it for 10.8 miles, passing Unicoi State Park & Lodge along the way.

Turn left onto GA-197 N, and follow that road towards Lake Burton for 3.1 miles until you reach Burton Dam Rd.

Take a right, and follow Burton Dam Rd for 2.9 miles, where it changes names to Seed Lake Rd. Continue straight for another 4.4 miles, then turn right onto Bear Gap Rd/Low Gap Rd.

Follow the gravel road for approximately 1.6 miles and look for the small Minnehaha Falls Trail sign and staircase pictured above on the right hand side of the road.  –by Bret Love; photos & video by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Best Clayton, GA Hotels & Cabin Rentals

Mountain Aire Cottages & Inn – Excellent location and quiet.

White Birch Inn – Get the celebrity treatment with world-class service.

Kingwood Country Club & Resort – Peaceful with beautiful scenery.

Pet-Friendly Cozy Cabin with Views By Black Rock – Entire vacation home • 2 bedrooms • 1 living room • 3 bathrooms • 1464 ft²

Heaven’s Rest Vacation Home – Entire vacation home • 4 bedrooms • 3 bathrooms • 2896 ft² • 6 beds (1 full, 1 king, 1 sofa bed, 3 queens)


Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

The BRMTG was created by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, the award-winning team behind the world-renowned responsible travel website Green Global Travel. Born and raised in North Georgia, Editor-In-Chief Bret Love grew up hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his family. A professional writer/editor since 1995, he's covered travel and culture for 100+ publications, including American Way, Destination Marriott, Georgia Travel Guide, National Geographic, and Southbound. In 2010 he co-founded the award-winning website, Green Global Travel, which is ranked among the world's top travel blogs. Since launching BRMTG in 2020, he and Mary Gabbett have visited 50+ Blue Ridge Mountain towns together. Though she lived in NYC for 14 years, photographer/Business Manager Mary Gabbett's family has Georgia roots dating back 200+ years. Her great-grandfather was President of the Western Railroad of Alabama. Before moving to Atlanta in 1989, she fell in love with the North GA mountains, where her aunt owned a cabin. In 2010 she co-founded Green Global Travel, and has since traveled to more than 40 countries on six continents. Her photos have appeared in numerous travel publications (including National Geographic and Southbound) and various textbooks.

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